GAZA, Nov 3 (Reuters) – Israel sent thousands of Palestinians back to besieged Gaza on Friday, carrying out an offensive against workers and day laborers in the territory who had previously been given permits to take jobs in Israel and the West Bank. busy.
Large numbers of workers returned through the Kerem Shalom crossing, east of the Rafah crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, which has been attacked by Israeli planes and tanks for weeks since the October 7 attack on the southwest of Israel by gunmen from the ruling Hamas group in the territory. .
“We used to serve them, working for them in houses, restaurants and markets for the lowest wages, and yet now we have been humiliated,” said Jamal Ismail, a worker at the Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza. .
Israel previously issued more than 18,000 permits allowing Gazans to cross into Israel and the Israeli-occupied West Bank to take jobs in sectors such as agriculture or construction that typically generated wages up to 10 times what a worker could earn in the blockaded Gaza Strip.
However, the system has been scrapped as Israel reversed its previous policy of offering economic incentives for stability and instead mounted a combined air and ground offensive to eradicate the Hamas militant movement that controls Gaza.
“Israel is cutting all contact with Gaza. There will be no more Palestinian workers from Gaza,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said in a statement. “Those Gaza workers who were in Israel on the day the war broke out will be returned to Gaza.”
Since then, Israel has relentlessly bombed the Palestinian coastal enclave and launched a ground offensive, killing more than 9,200 Palestinians, nearly half of them children, according to Gaza health authorities. U.N. officials say more than 1.4 million of Gaza’s roughly 2.3 million residents have been displaced.
It is unclear how many Gaza residents were in Israel on October 7, when Hamas gunmen stormed through the fenced border and rampaged through southern communities, killing 1,400 people and taking 240 captive in Gaza.
However, a senior Palestinian Authority official said 4,950 Gaza residents had fled to the West Bank from Israel and about 5,000 were believed to have been detained by Israel.
“Nobody knows what’s going on,” said Ghazal Ghazal, 50, who worked at a candy factory in Tel Aviv before escaping to the West Bank last month after learning from colleagues that Israeli authorities were making arrests. .
Palestinians have limited self-government in the areas where they live in the West Bank, which is under Israeli military occupation.
For those remaining in the West Bank, spotty phone and internet connections have meant news from home has been sporadic as Israeli bombing continued.
Nidal Abu Jidian, a father of three who had been working as a road paver in Israel before seeking refuge at a community center in the West Bank city of Ramallah, said he follows the news on his phone to try to find out about his family’s condition. .
“I was talking on the phone with my uncle. They bombed him while I was talking to him. I was checking on him and my children and they killed him. I heard the attack. The phone went dead.”
Additional reporting by Henriette Chacar in Ramallah; editing by Jason Neely, Angus MacSwan and Mark Heinrich
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